Probate and Estate

Probate law entails various areas of the practice of law. When someone dies the property he leaves to be distributed by a will, or otherwise, is called his estate. When someone dies his estate is generally distributed through the probate court of the county of residence of the deceased.

The probate estate process is started by filing a petition with the probate court which lists certain information about the decedent and identifies his heir/devisees as the case may be. Michigan has an informal process for administration of estates which allows for an easier process of distribution of the estate with minimal probate court intervention. Creditors of the estate must be identified and claims against the estate must be satisfied before distribution may be made to heirs and devisees of the estate. Informal probate may be converted to a formal estate administration when there are disputes as to ownership of property or disputes as to claims made against the estate for debts. Knowing when to use informal or formal proceedings in estate administration requires experience and sound judgment to protect all parties.

Probate law also encompasses minor guardianships and conservatorships. When a minor is left without an appropriate parent to provide guidance and care, a minor guardianship is the usual remedy. A guardianship will provide a fit and proper adult the authority to make decisions on behalf of the minor. The guardian, as would a parent, consents to living arrangements, attendance at school, medical care and would provide general oversight that a minor child requires. A minor guardianship may be necessitated by the death of parents, possible abandonment or the unfitness of a parent/s to perform his or her parental responsibilities. A parent may be unfit due to physical or mental illness. Immorality or imprisonment may necessitate the need for a minor guardianship.

Minor conservatorships are also controlled by the probate court and are necessary in a situation where a child is left an estate that requires supervision. When the parent is deceased, or deemed unfit an adult, other than the parent, may be appointed by the probate court to insure that any proceeds from an estate are properly managed for the benefit of the minor child.

Adult guardianships and conservatorships are also controlled by the probate court. Adult conservatorships are necessary due to the incapacity of an adult due to either a physical or mental disabling condition. The guardianship of an adult pertains to the need to give direction and guidance to the incapacitated adult (the protected individual) and to make decisions regarding living arrangements, health care needs and other matters that impact the physical well-being of an adult. Conservatorships are sought for adults who are mentally or physically incapacitated who have an estate (personal or real property) that requires oversight to insure that property is managed in the best interests of a disabled adult.


William J. Campbell has worked with many families in the mid-Michigan area since 1976, to help them get through the probate process to insure that the estate of a loved one is distributed to the rightful heirs and is administered in a matter that is not time consuming and involves excessive fees and costs. The biggest complaint of persons involved in the estate process is the time to probate an estate is excessive. With the utilization of the informal probate process an estate can be fully administered in a six month time frame. The law offices of William J. Campbell use the informal probate process as its preferred mechanism of estate administration for timely and efficient administration. Mr. Campbell was employed by the Midland County Probate for a period of two years prior to attendance of law school and he understands first hand the needs and concerns of probate courts. Mr. Campbell has also served the Ingham County Probate Court as a special fiduciary, guardian ad litem and court appointed attorney to insure all probate requirements and statutory laws have been followed and the protected individual, is in fact, protected and his best interests are realized.

The law offices of William J. Campbell are willing to serve you in the probate process. They welcome you to contact them at either our Mt. Pleasant or East Lansing offices.